Marco Materazzi explained the reason behind dropping Jeje on bench..

Chennaiyin FC vanquished struggling FC Goa to register their first win of the campaign in front of the Marina Arena faithful on Thursday night. The win takes them to fifth spot, with their play-off dreams now becoming a distant certainty.

Marco Materazzi publicly stated after the Delhi Dynamos game that he was unhappy with his players’ performance, and his personnel responded with a stellar performance that restricted Goa to just a very few shots on target last night. When asked about the strategy that helped them claim Goa’s scalp, he divulged a compelling dressing room conversation with his players.

“We were fighting for every ball,” claimed Materazzi with a proud look on his visage. “Last game, we just went for the last ball. Probably, it was my fault that day, but I told them: ‘If you want to fight for every ball like this, I’m the man to lead you.’ Last week was my fault. It’s not just the defence, but the whole team that makes the game. It is our mentality that won today. If we’re willing to fight, struggle, we’ll win. If not, we’re sinking.”

Jeje Lalpekhlua was a surprise exclusion from the game as the former World Cup winner ditched his favoured 4-4-2 formation in favour of a one-man frontline featuring his compatriot in Davide Succi. When quizzed about Lalpekhlua’s exclusion, he hit back at the journalists, stating the Indian media should be proud of watching the reigning champions finish the game with seven Indians on the pitch instead of complaining about a single player’s exclusion.

“When someone is left out, I feel bad for them,” admitted Materazzi. “I’ve been a player myself. Everybody wants to play all the games. In every nation – Italy, India, Spain, England – there’s a journalist who’s not happy. I cannot make everybody happy. Someone will say Jeje; someone will say Ganesh while someone will say Khabra. You should be proud that we finished with seven Indians, and our captain was an Indian to boot.”

Jerry Lalrinzuala was handed a start in light of his impressive performance off the bench against Dynamos last week. The youngster justified the coach’s selection as he constantly threatened Goa’s backline with his pace and sublime crosses. The 43-year-old coach said he would incorporate more youngsters into his line-up if it were not for the ISL regulations.

“He works hard during the training sessions and is very good,’ revealed Materazzi. “He fights and deserves this game. I’d also like to play the other kids but could not do that because of the regulations. However, you know my mentality. I don’t care about nationality or age. Whoever deserves to play will play.”

Although he admitted that making the play-off stages will not be a walk in the park, he announced that he intended to guide his side to the play-offs for the third consecutive season.

“It won’t be easy because the league has pace. Last season after two games we had no points. Goa is a very good team. Surely, this loss doesn’t mean they’re already out. As far as I’m concerned, we deserved to go to the final (last year), so out target is to go to the play-off (this year).

“Now, we have seven days to recover but, after the next game, we have only three or four days rest. We have to learn the lesson but have seven days, and the most important thing will be to recover,” signed off the Italian.

Chennaiyin travel to Guwahati next Thursday to take on league leaders United, and a win against the Highlanders will offer them the psychological boost required to achieve their target.

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